It was chilly; Kehra shivered, standing close to her dark gray speckled horse, Shadow, for any warmth she could acquire. Dawn had come to the quiet, sparse forest. No city, town, inn, cottage, or soul existed anywhere near here. That is what she wanted.
She hugged herself. She always dressed more like a man; it was better for traveling, or was it running away? – something she did often. As dangerous as it was, she was unarmed. She knew no weapons; she did not fight. No, she never had any weapons past perhaps her tongue at times. She had no desire for weapons; it was not her to harm others to protect herself. Perhaps that is why-...
She sighed and buried her head in Shadow’s mane. Another day to face. She could hear the birds twittering their greetings to one another over the quiet bubbling of a stream a few steps away but her thoughts wandered to other places far away. Perhaps tomorrow, she’d be able to smile at the birds.
Approaching the stream, she knelt by the side, watching the clear water bound over the stones. Removing her gloves, she plunged her hands into the cool water. After letting the water flow over her hands for a few minutes, she rubbed her face vigorously. Closing her eyes, she let the almost undetectable breeze cool down her face, refreshing her.
She sighed again and let her gaze fall to the moist earth in front of her. Almost unconsciously, she began to trace the letters of a name in the dirt. Her face softened as she stared through the letters into some memory. Her eyes danced through thought after thought until they reached a cold end. Her eyes snapped shut, her face hardening.
Standing up quickly, she kicked her etchings in the dirt, smearing them, and swung up on Shadow, a tortured look on her face. Her heel barely touched Shadow's side before he plunged into the stream and out again.
Urging him on, she steered him out of the trees and through a grassy field. He wanted to run, and she loved to feel the wind whip around her. He sped through the grass, his mane flying. Kehra dropped the reins and spread her arms out against the wind. She almost felt as if she were flying. She closed her eyes. Shadow knew he was in control for the moment, and he knew the “way”. The wind danced around her. She could feel it tearing through her soul, driving away her memories, locking them down deep inside her.
Grabbing the reins, she slowed Shadow to a stop. Even though she had not been the one running, she sat there panting almost as much as Shadow. When her heart and breathing returned to normal, she smiled and patted Shadow's neck fondly. She loved him; he was her only faithful friend.
“Never trust a man, Shadow, never,” she pursed her lips. Shadow snorted in response. She turned and stared off in the distance where she had come from. Her gazed turned into a glare.
She was always running. Why, she asked herself, why? Running from people. People she’d trusted who only ended up using her. It always ended up the same; she should have learned by now. It was her nature to love, to care... to trust. A nature, soon to be beaten out of existence by those who would take advantage of her heart that only knew how to give.
“Never trust anyone, Shadow, never trust. There is not one person in this world that I could trust. Time has shown me that the painful way,” she whispered, scowling.
She cringed; She would again, though. She knew she would. She trusted and gave so honestly without a second thought. She’d do it again and again until life broke her. It had not broken her yet. It only threatened to drive her kindness into hiding, replacing tenderness with hostility. She would not let it win, though.
How many times more would she have to flee, though? Someday, she thought, someday I will find someone that will not betray me. For now, I won’t let the fools who have taken advantage of me turn me into a cold, uncaring person.
“Love... care... give... but do not trust!” she whispered to herself, almost begging. Urging Shadow forward, she fled on to somewhere... anywhere.